Senate-Approved FY 2008 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Includes Feinstein-Snowe Measure to Ensure Maximum Flexibility for U.S. HIV/AIDS Prevention Funding
- Measure would eliminate the requirement in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to spend at least 33 percent of funding on these abstinence-only programs -
Sep 07 2007
Washington, DC – The Fiscal Year 2008 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill approved by the Senate includes a measure sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to provider greater flexibility for U.S. funding for critical international HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
Currently, a federal mandate requires that one-third of all U.S. prevention funds for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief are designated for “abstinence-until-marriage” programs.
Specifically, the legislation would eliminate this “abstinence-until-marriage” requirement for Fiscal Year 2008. This would provide affected nations the maximum flexibility they need to develop multi-pronged HIV prevention programs.
“The Senate today approved legislation that will ensure that affected international communities are given greater flexibility to prevent the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” Senator Feinstein said. “Specifically, the bill would eliminate the current federal mandate to spend at least one-third of international HIV/AIDS prevention funds for abstinence-until marriage programs for Fiscal Year 2008. The current approach means less money for funds to prevent mother to child transmission; less money to promote a comprehensive prevention message to high risk groups such as sexually active youth; and less funds to protect the blood supply. Political motivations should no longer stand in the way of stopping the spread of this deadly virus.”
“Today the Senate recognized that countries must have the means to target prevention funds where they are most needed to prevent HIV infection,” said Senator Snowe. “Both the GAO and the Institute of Medicine have confirmed that the use of rigid formulas to dictate spending on specific prevention strategies simply causes countries to waste PEPFAR funds. In fact, every country has unique circumstances which dictate its prevention needs. While abstinence is a valuable tool, it alone will not stem the AIDS epidemic. For example, it will not protect a married woman with an HIV positive husband, nor prevent a mother from passing the virus to her child. This legislation will allow each country to utilize the mix of prevention strategies most appropriate to prevent AIDS and save lives. That is a critical step in seeing greater progress to win the war against HIV/AIDS.”
A GAO report release in 2006 revealed that abstinence-only programs have serious drawbacks.
- The 33 percent abstinence spending requirement is squeezing out available funding for other key HIV prevention programs, such as mother-to-child transmission and maintaining a health blood supply.
- The spending requirement limited or reduced funding for programs directed to high-risk groups, such as sexually active youth; and
- The majority of country teams on the ground reported that meeting the spending requirement ‘challenges their ability to develop interventions that are responsive to local epidemiology and social norms.’
Last month, a congressionally mandated review by the Institute of Medicine on the first three years of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief also found significant problems with the abstinence earmark.
- There is no evidence to support a 33 percent abstinence only earmark
- The 33 percent earmark does not allow country teams on the ground the flexibility they need to respond to local needs.